Let's be honest, the term branding is confusing and most of us don't give a fuck about it. But honestly, everyone needs to know why branding matters. Because it really does. You can have strong branding and see huge things happen or have weak branding and really struggle.
But before you can even think about how to set strong foundation, you need to understand what it is and why it matters. It's not only a logo with the perfect fonts and colors. It goes way beyond that.
In today's post, I'm going through what it is, the different elements, and why it matters in the first place so you actually give a fuck about it!
What is branding?
While I could easily sit here and ramble on about what branding truly is and why it matters, I'm going to reference my favorite quote instead. It's said by the founder of Amazon and it's the most accurate quote out there if you ask me.
"Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room." - Jeff benzos
In short, branding is about the impression you leave behind. It's the way you make someone feel about you and your business. It's not just some cool looking graphic on pinterest or that logo you have plastered everywhere.
Think about some famous companies - Starbucks, Apple, McDonalds, Nike, Target.
Each one of these will make you think of something whether it be positive or negative - no matter if it's the products they serve or the customer service they deliver. Those thoughts that pop into your head - that's their branding.
Now I want you to think about what you want someone to say about you when they hear your name. That is your brand.
If you're branding yourself, the same rule applies - even if you're in direct sales.
You want to brand yourself from the start. If you're in direct sales - you don't want people to just think about It Works or Younique or LuLaRoe. What are you doing to make them have thoughts and opinions of you?
The important thing here is to provide value and help them so that they naturally want to come to you over someone else.
I don't care what your business is - you have competitors. And while I'm all for healthy competition and will encourage you to form relationships with those people, you need to make an income.
There's a million people on Etsy selling tshirts. There's a million distributors for It Works selling wraps and greens. There's a million virtual assistants out there selling thier services.
What makes you different? What experiences, memories, and relationships are you creating for your tribe?
2 main elements to branding
As I've stated above, your branding is not just a logo or brand colors. It's not just who you call yourself or who you help. It's actually - all of those things intertwined together. They each serve a purpose and you can't run a business with one and not the other.
You need to have a strong foundation and that includes all the necessary pieces of a strong brand.
The visuals you see
The visuals of your brand are your first impression - they are what determine if a potential client or customer chooses to click over to your website, decide to stick around, and make an initial judgement about how trustworthy and credible you are.
Do not underestimate the power of cohesive branding.
This is not to say you need to hire a designer from day one - because you don't. But don't half ass it and put up sloppy nonsense that's all over the place. You need to put thought into it and really build it to impress.
If you're living on a DIY budget, save up and find some amazing premade branding from designers who know their shit. I promise you this - cheap branding will not pay off in the long term.
A few tips I have for you as you go through this step, include the following:
1 | Design cohesive branding
If you're not sure what that means - it means design elements that are unified and go together. When you have cohesive branding, you'll stand out and have an easier time gaining trust and being recognized online. I cannot tell you enough how important it is to have a streamlined and cohesive brand. So. Freaking. Important.
2 | Create a brand style guide to maintain consistency
A brand style guide is a document that outlines all the elements with your brand. It helps maintain consistency for you, your team, and anyone else who will work with your branding. This keeps everything on point while you make sure everything is cohesive.
Design your logo, submarks, social media ads, etc with the same elements. Choose a color palette that you will use for your branding, choose some fonts, a few variations of your logo to use in certain situations, photography styles to stick to, and whatever else you really need.
If you need help with creating your own brand style guide, you might find my previous post useful:
3 | Make an impression and stand out with your messaging
I know, this section is supposed to be about branding, yes? Well - I still feel your messaging has a lot to do with your first impression. Oftentimes, your client or customer will land on your website for the first time and see your logo, your header images, and that main headline you use.
It needs to line up with the rest of your brand - it needs to have the same feel, style and tone as the rest of it.
Make an impression and stand out with your messaging, mama! Talk the way your dreamies talk online and truly connect with them on a deeper level by making sure your messaging is on point.
The details you experience
Once you nail the visuals of your brand, you need to have all the details and experiences nailed down as well. You should have your business planned out and put some concrete thought into all the details. It makes it easier to build your business and makes it clear you know what the fuck you're doing.
But what are those details? I'm glad you asked ...
1 | Mission statement & keywords
It's important to know what the true mission behind your business is. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why did you start your business?
- Why did you choose THIS business?
- What is your #1 goal or objective behind your business?
When you have that nailed, think about what keywords you would use to describe your business. Think about:
- How do you want your dreamies to feel when they land on your website?
- What words do you want them to use to describe their experience?
2 | Your dreamies (aka clients and customers)
Next, you need to identify your dreamies, in other words those clients and customers you'll want to work with. I highly recommend choosing someone you already know and have worked with. It makes it easier to tailor everything to them and conduct market research.
Stay away from common avatar profile bullshit you see online surrounding this idea. Instead think about:
- What are they struggling with?
- What does their day currently look like?
- How will they connect with you?
- How will you solve their problems?
- What is THE moment that they come looking for help?
3 | Goals for your business
I want you to go crazy here - like out of this world crazy. It's easier to hustle when you have big goals in mind.
- What kind of services and products do you dream about offering?
- How much income do you want to make in your business?
- How many people do you want to help?
- What lifestyle changes do you want to make because of your business?
- What do you want to invest in with your business?
Write them all down. Every single one of them.
4 | Offerings & processes
Hopefully, you've talked to your dreamies before working on this step. Validation is important! (that's why you'll notice I took down my work with me page while I focus on content so I can learn about y'all a little more first)
But once you get to that step - start forming your offerings. Refine them until you're lighting up with passion and excitement because they are PERFECT for your dreamies. They'll be throwing money at you! But also make sure to outline the process for each offering - no matter if it's a product or service.
Perfect it. Tweak it. Have everything covered to create the perfect experience. Blow their fucking mind.
This is so important for one very reason: you're not a snowflake - you are not different. You, yourself are, sure. But your offering? I'm sure it's being done in 100 different ways online. You need to focus on the experience you provide. My clients can go to any designer and get the same logo, but they'll come to me because they get an out of this world experience that makes them FEEL GOOD AND SEE RESULTS.
Why branding really matters
Alright, so I talked about what it is, what it includes, but why should you give a fuck? I get it. It sounds not only confusing, but like a giant sack of effort that you'd rather not deal with. But here's the thing ...
Having some strong branding can make or break the success of your business.
And let me tell you why that is ...
It makes you easier to remember
When someone mentions a particular business or famous icon, you know exactly who they are talking about .. usually. When you have a strong brand - both in the details and the visuals, people remember you. They remember the experience they had, what you specialize in, who you help, and what you visually look like.
In turn ... they'll talk about you when a particular person needs help with something that you do. When they have a problem and they know you're the person to go to.
When you have your shit together, people will remember you and you'll grow. You'll gain a reputation.
You’ll stand out against competitors
Your competitors will likely all be doing something similar - and fucking rocking it. Otherwise, they wouldn't be your competitors, am I right? So you need to see what they're doing well and light that shit up at a 100 fold. Take mental notes and do it better. Put your own twist on it.
When you make a statement with your details, your visuals, your offerings, your experience ... you'll stand out. People will know who you are and mention you and make noise online for you.
Some things to think about ...
- What kind of strategies have none of them tried?
- What special offerings can you create to get known for?
- Who can you connect with that nobody else is?
Become the expert. Become known. Stand the fuck out against everyone else.
It builds the know, like, and trust factor
Naturally, when you have your branding fucking nailed - you instantly gain credibility. People are finding you and they're impressed. You look professional, solve thier problem, and foster the perfect experience. This creates the know, like, and trust factor.
They're finding you online because you're standing out so you become known. They like what you do. They trust you because you're the real deal.
Without solid branding - this usually doesn't happen.
You’ll have an easier time running your business
The best part of all of this? It's a million times fucking easier to run your business when you have this shit nailed. You don't need to play around with a million different fonts because you use the same ones across all graphics. You don't need to struggle writing your content because you know exactly who you're writing it for and how you're helping. You don't need to wonder around about what steps to take next because your processes are nailed down.
You have your shit figured out and it's so fucking easy to go about your business.